Salivary gland

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Non-cancerous tumours of the salivary gland

A non-cancerous, or benign, tumour of the salivary gland is a growth that does not spread (metastasize) to other parts of the body. Non-cancerous tumours are not usually life-threatening.

Many different types of non-cancerous tumours can develop in the salivary glands. They are usually slow-growing, painless lumps on the face, jaw, neck or in the mouth. They are typically removed by surgery and do not usually come back, or recur.

Pleomorphic adenoma

Pleomorphic adenoma may also be called a benign mixed tumour. It is the most common non-cancerous tumour of the salivary glands. It is most often found in the tail of the parotid gland. It can also develop in minor salivary glands in the hard palate and the upper lip.

Doctors remove this tumour because there is a very small risk that it can develop into a rare cancerous tumour called carcinoma ex-pleomorphic adenocarcinoma.

Warthin tumour

Warthin tumour is also known as papillary cystadenoma lymphomatosum. It is the 2nd most common type of non-cancerous salivary gland tumour. It usually develops in one parotid gland, but it can also occur bilaterally (in both parotid glands at the same time).

This type of tumour has a thin cover called a capsule. There are many cysts inside the tumour.

All people with Warthin tumour survive the disease. It rarely comes back after it is removed.

Rare non-cancerous salivary gland tumours

The following non-cancerous salivary gland tumours are rare or very rare:

  • lipoma
  • oxyphil adenoma (oncocytoma)
  • monomorphic tumours
  • benign lymphoepithelial lesion
  • papillary ductal adenoma (papilloma)
  • sebaceous tumours
  • myoepithelioma
  • schwannoma


A sac in the body that is usually filled with fluid or semi-solid material.